Sunday, November 4, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part XVI


photo by Gary Hoyle (used with permission)
I’m sure I mentioned somewhere above that the farmers in the area had a hard time getting their produce to market because of long distances and slow transportation. Somewhere along the line, an electrified rail system was run from Caldwell into the dam area. This made it somewhat easier for us to go to town, but to haul produce it was a four to five mile trip to get the stuff to the rail head. When it was our only purpose to go to town, we would take the buckboard or shafted buggy, leave the horses tied to the hitch rail provided, and board the car. I should tell you at this point that the operators of the contraption spent a lot of their time hunting pheasant, rabbits, coyotes, as well as anything else they could eat or draw a bounty on. I know they spent some time removing sheep, cattle and other livestock from the railroad so they could proceed on their appointed rounds. Whenever we left the horses at the rail head, we planned to stay only a few hours, because the sun was hot and the horses needed water every few hours. I don’t recall that any produce was ever shipped from this rail head. It was still too far from our place.

Somewhere along the line, the railroad was changed and run into our valley in about the same area where we first entered the valley around the curve in the road, it then continued east to a point about one-and-a-half or two miles from our place. A grade was cleared through a section diagonally to about one-half mile from our place, but this part was never used. We were now able to ship by the carload without too much trouble providing we had a carload.

One incident, which I shall always remember, related to the railroad, occurred when Dad decided to take a pig to market to get some ready cash. This particular car was a double end arrangement – passengers and motorman on each end with a freight compartment in the center.

via Wikimedia Commons
Dad placed the pig, which weighed 150 to 200 pounds, in a substantial wooden crate built for this purpose. We hauled it to the rail head in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. Dad backed the wagon up to the larger sliding doors to the freight compartment and he and I unloaded the pig crate, placing it near one wall away from the doors of the compartment. And then, the ruckus started.

One of the operators, probably the conductor, approached Dad and informed him that he could not ship a live pig to market in their vehicle. Of course Dad refused this argument because he needed the money and this was the best and easiest way to get the pig to town. The conductor then contacted the motorman to get his help in handling the situation. The motorman didn’t help their cause in anyway and they then proceeded to return the crated pig to our wagon, which was still backed up to the freight doors. I was standing in the wagon close to the seat holding the reins in case the horses spooked at all the yelling going on. Suddenly, one of those guys literally flew out of the door, missed the wagon entirely and landed in the dirt alongside the rear wagon wheel. I jumped into the compartment to see what was going on. The other guy was setting on the floor against the far wall with his hands over the stomach area of his anatomy. Dad took his pig to town. I drove the team home and reported to Mama. I shall mention this railroad in future additions since from now on, it was part of our lives.

Race with the Coyote

I’ve been debating with myself when I should records this story. I promised you on previous pages that I would bring it up at a later date, but I’ve never been sure of the right time since it doesn’t relate to anything much at this point, and much of it is vague. It concerned a baseball game and I’ve wondered why Colonel wasn’t involved because he was quite interested in playing the game.

via Wikimedia Commons
This is the only time I can recall that we went to another school to play. In this case, it was the Deer Flat School about seven or eight miles northwest of our school. We were transported to the school on a wagon furnished by one of our neighbors. We played the game and returned to our valley in early dusk. I was let off the wagon about two to two-and-a-half miles from home. By the time I got to the section where the railroad bed had been cleared, it was dark and the coyotes began to sing. It must be remembered that this was sagebrush country and the coyotes were out in force. At this point, I was about one or one-and-a-half miles from home and was becoming frightened, so I began to run with those guys yapping, first to the right and then to the left 20 to 30 feet from me. When I got out of the sagebrush and onto the main road, they kind of gave up, but I didn’t stop. It was the first time in my life that I got my second wind. I could have run all night, I believe.

I couldn’t say a word for some time after I got home, just too scared I guess. I think I know now why other events seem so vague since they were all secondary to the run with the coyotes.

Things were beginning to change somewhat as we were starting to get a few things that would help ease the hard labor.

Uncle Andy’s Lamp

First I want to mention Uncle Andy’s lamp. As explained above, all we had was kerosene lanterns and lamps, and at best they gave a very dim light. The lamp that Uncle got was about twice the size of most lamps, and it had a double mantle in it. I have no idea what kind of fuel it burned, but I suspect it was gasoline. Gasoline was being used to some extent, but few people knew what it was and probably didn’t care. This lamp gave a brilliant white light and when placed on a center table, it could light up a room well enough to read almost anywhere. One trouble, the mantles were so delicate that if the lamp was moved or jarred, the mantles would break. Lots of people visited just to see that lamp. {In 1914, William Coleman launched the Coleman Company}

Washing Machine

1911 Maytag

One of the first things Mama got to ease her labors was a washing machine. There was one thing Colonel and I found out real quick was that the contraption certainly wasn’t a labor saving device for us. It was made to run by advancing and withdrawing a wooden lever on the side of the tub. Operating this lever caused the rise and fall of three or four cups in the tub to push and then suck water and soap through clothing thereby eliminating soil, gravy and maybe cow manure from the fabric. The thing worked fine as long as there was just water in the tub, but when clothing was added a lot of opposition was placed on the muscle of young tender boys, but we fought it through and lived to tell about the rough life. The wringer was about as bad, but it sure helped Mama out a lot in her hard and busy life.

Kerosene Stove

As I told you, the summers were extremely hot, so Dad and Mama bought a kerosene burning stove. I believe it had three burners with a round wick. The stove didn’t have an oven, but it did have a warming oven, so any baking was don had to be done with the wood (coal) burning Home Comfort Range. The kerosene stove could be moved outside for better ventilation in the summertime.

Dad also acquired some labor-saving equipment. Some of this material was purchased in partnership with Mack Stocker, Uncle Andy and even Charlie Stephenson, whose place joined ours on the east. The manure spreader was an example of such equipment. Before we acquired this piece of equipment, the stuff had to be loaded onto a wagon by pitchfork. We usually used a four-tined fork for this purpose. When the load had been transported to a field it was again forked over the side and spread upon the ground. The spreader had a movable apron which the driver could operate from his seat at the front end of the load by engaging a number of gears, causing the apron to rotate toward the rear of the spreader. A rotating cylinder was also engaged, causing the material to practically fly out the back and spread evenly on the field. You got rid of the shoveling off but never the shoveling on. The potato planter, digger, sorter, wheat drill, and corn drill were other examples of community properties.

We had a couple of plows: one single bottom and one double bottom, a couple of mowing machines, a hay rake and two or three cultivators – one pulled by one horse and one pulled by two horses. This one could cultivate two or more rows.

from 1937 Plattsburgh, Missouri paper
I think one of the best things we acquired was a cream separator. Before we got it, mild was poured into pans, set on shelving in the milk house. Then, it was allowed to stand until all the cream had risen to the top. Mama then skimmed it off into five or ten gallon milk cans. The skimmed milk was fed to the hogs. The De la Valve {Delaval} separator (trade name) saved a lot of labor and the end product could be kept cleaner and easier to handle. The hogs still got their share, but probably not so much cream in it. I believe the cream was picked up once a week by a butter making outfit in Caldwell.

The derrick was on our property, I believe, but was used by Mack and Uncle Andy because the dragging distance was not over one-half mile and four to six horses could handle it easily.

Besides the above equipment, we had the following rolling stock: the lumber wagon, drawn by two or more horses; buck board, drawn by two horses; two-seated hack with the fringe on top, drawn by two horses and a one-seated buggy with shafts; one horse harness for three teams and harness for buggy horse.


via Wikimedia Commons
We fought these insects about nine months out of the year. There was just no way we could exterminate enough of them to do much good. They would collect on the outside of the screen doors so thick that you couldn’t see through the screen, and at times, the inside of the house looked like the inside of a beehive. Mama got some paper that had a sticky substance on one side. This stuff was placed around. It caught a lot of flies, but didn’t make much of a dent in the population. Then, we had the black poison paper which was placed in a shallow plate or pan with water. The flies were attracted to the plates, drank the stuff and died by the thousands; but usually not before they took off, dropping dead in food and other places not healthy for us. The pans of this poisoned stuff also posed a problem for young children who are bound to eat and/or drink anything not good for them. I’m sure not just a few died from this concoction.

Before meals, especially when she was feeding a crew, Mama would have Colonel and me go to the corn field and pull several suckers from the main corn stocks. With these, we would drive many flies outside, but could not eliminate them entirely; so we continued to get them in our soup, coffee or whatever.

I know the above is a disgusting subject, but they were there. It did happen and I hate the things.


The war in Europe was still in progress and was heating up to some extent. I know that Colonel and I worried some because we thought it possible that Dad may have to go if we became involved. At this point, we didn’t know too much about the situation over there; but some of the young men we had known earlier were prepared and were talking seriously about it.

I think it was about this time that Uncle Jim Youker showed up and stayed a few days. He was my mother’s only brother. We liked him very much because he had a lot of stories and was a sort of worldly individual. Mining had been his principal occupation from about the age of 12. That was the last time we saw him or received a word from him. Although Aunt Maude and Aunt Gertie spend considerable time and money in an endeavor to locate their brother, it has been assumed that he was in the service, but never returned. No Records exist. {I have found a record of James registering for the draft on September 12, 1918. He named his closest relative as being Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson (friend). He married Inez (probably Elizabeth, perhaps abbreviated Eliz and misread by the extractor) Jackson on September 25, 1918, in Payette, Idaho. If he served during the war, he survived because he and Elizabeth were living in Boise at the time the 1920 federal census was taken. Beyond that, I've found nothing.}

[I must explain that these people and perhaps other often changed their name. For what purposes I certainly don’t know. Mother’s name on her marriage certificate was Johnson. When we questioned her about this, she explained that her father changed his name to Johnson when he joined the Union army. Both Aunt Gertie and Aunt Maude had other names they went by at various times. So, it could be that James Youker did the same thing. I’m guessing here, something I vowed not to do in the preparation of this narrative. J.]


We continued to do about the same things I’ve been telling you about. We ate, slept, worked and went to school in season. If I recall, the war in Europe didn’t seem to have much effect on the farmer. I know Dad raised lots of potatoes and wheat, but I can’t recall the dividends he may have received from this produce. Much of our produce was shipped to eastern markets and a lot of bad things happened on its way back there.

I believe it was May 1917 that the U S of A entered the war. {President Woodrow Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress on April 2, 1917. On April 4th, Congress granted his request.}

I don’t know if Colonel or I noticed or knew that Mama was going to have a baby. I know mama didn’t feel well most of the time. The weather was extremely hot and she continued to do her usual chores. I don’t know if it was about this time or later that our doctor told us that Mama needed some rest.
to be continued ...

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